The solution was to trim them until I had time to get a landscaper in here to remove them and tell me what to plant in the empty patch of dirt.
I really wish I had a "before" shot so that I could fully show you how much work this was, but the picture above is the end result: no bushes, no trees, no shrubs, no weeds. Just a tree trunk to cut down (on the right), and some stumps to remove. Once I started trimming, I did such a lousy job that I couldn't bear to leave it looking so shabby... so I just kept cutting and cutting and cutting and then... voila!
After all the cutting was done, I ventured to Home Depot to buy a small bow saw to cut down the smaller of the two trunks -- cutting through it proved to be a ton more work than I expected, so I am leaving the larger trunk for when I have a chainsaw and, preferably, one of the men in my life to operate it. :-)
Now that that mess is gone, I'm excited about the possibilities: Flowers! Hosta! Low shrubs! Color! There is a small rock garden with a wooden border that was surrounding the trees (which I assume started as small shrubs and then grew out of control), but I had to cut away all that excess to even know it was there.
After 6 years in this house, I've discovered a beautiful space that I didn't even know existed because it was too covered up, to be blunt, by junk.
And isn't that just how it is with life sometimes - we get so bogged down with "junk" that we can't see what is really there. Too much work, too many obligations, too many chores and errands... too much time spent looking for the perfect (shoes, dress, car, computer, dishes -- insert your choice of "junk" here), that we miss and overlook the important things in life: the things that really make us whole.
I know that for me, when overwhelmed by life's obligations, I tend to stop taking care of myself. I tend to stop remembering how GOOD I feel when I exercise, eat right, get enough sleep, and fill my hours with meaningful activities, like spending time with my family, boyfriend and friends, volunteering (something I adore, but haven't done enough of lately), or focusing on a hobby that makes me happy (running, writing, reading, takin' pictures).
Today, even though it was a lot more work than I bargained for, I thoroughly enjoyed the peaceful quiet of taking care of my home and making it more beautiful. It wasn't just a workout for my body, but for my soul, and I can't wait to dive into Stage Two: growing flowers where dirt used to be.
In a way, that phrase is kind of a metaphor for my life, and August always seems to be my period of regrowth. Three years ago, almost to the day, I was finally ending a four-year relationship that was going nowhere and should have probably ended two years prior. Two years ago, I was a pile of tears, relief and anxiety, watching my father and 1800GotJunk quite firmly remove that ex boyfriend (and his mountains of junk) from my home and my life. One year ago, I was returning from a weekend at my family's lake home with The Manfriend, having spent a quiet and rainy weekend enjoying each others company. Throughout that period of my life, I had this theory that every time it rained, it was God (Allah / Buddha / The Universe / Whatever Higher Power Of Your Choice), washing away all the junk that had previously occurred or existed -- when that happens, it is amazing what you can find.
This year, 1800GotJunk came back to my house, but for very different reasons. The sun is shining brightly (there's nothing left to wash away), growing flowers where dirt used to be.
On Friday morning, I pulled out my DSLR camera -- a gift I'd bought myself with my Health.com column earnings, when I thought that learning about photography would complement my new adventures as a writer. I was so proud to buy it with my first paycheck "as a published writer." Much later, for our first Valentine's Day together, The Manfriend very thoughtfully bought me a "DSLR Photography for Dummies" book that he'd seen me eying on a few occasions. I'd read it at the time, but then due to a computer malfunction and busy life, I'd put photography and writing on the shelf for a while. Yesterday, I pulled it out and started re-reading, and though it took a little while to re-familiarize myself with the settings and options, I'm really looking forward to diving in again and learning about this art and technology - a postponed passion of mine that had been "shelved," while I dealt with the junk of everyday life.
How about you?
- What are your passions?
- How do you feed your soul?
- What are your cues that it is time to take a step back and reprioritize?
The only thing bigger is the reward.
*titled with respects to my friend Kristi, who writes a blog by this very name, and the song "Merry Happy" by Kate Nash:
"Sitting in restaurants, thought we were so grown up, but I know now that we were not the people that we turned out to be. Chatting on the phone, cant take back those hours, but I wont regret, cause you can grow flowers from where dirt used to be"